On 6 June, we will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day, Normandy Landings. This was the start of the Allied forces operation to liberate Europe, which would eventually lead to the end of the Second World War. In recognition of the part played by men from the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, we are staging a small display on the first floor of the Museum of Liverpool from Saturday 25 May to Wednesday 17 July.
Two battalions from the Regiment took part. Both were allocated the role of Beach Group, which involved securing the Beach, providing cover and directing the landed troops and equipment once ashore. It also involved gathering up the dead and wounded whenever there was a lull in the German bombardment. Anyone who has seen the first few minutes of the film Saving Private Ryan will understand that being part of a Beach Group was no easy task. For our two local battalions, the 5th based at Sword Beach and the 8th based at Juno Beach, that task lasted six weeks. After this, the 8th Battalion were disbanded, while the 5th Battalion moved inland with the advancing Allied troops. For more information on the part the Regiment played in the Second World War, at D-Day, in Italy and in Burma, you can visit our City Soldiers gallery.
Our new D-Day display will focus on the story of one man; Sergeant Cyril Askew was already serving with the King’s in India when War broke out. He was still in India, training for the first Chindit Expedition that went into Burma in 1943 when he was told he would be returning to England. His seven years service was up. He returned home and was soon back serving with the King’s. In the spring of 1944 he was transferred to the Lincolnshire Regiment to begin training for the secret invasion. Placed in the 3rd Division, he landed on Sword Beach alongside the 5th battalion of the Liverpool regiment.
His stories tell of the horror and chaos of the Normandy Landings; being trapped on the first day under the constant fire from German Machine gunners and Mortar Crews; The confusion of not knowing the whereabouts of the rest of his unit; Gathering his group together one-by-one; The search for food and supplies, and ‘grabbing a bite’ when possible and the push inland through a terrain dominated by tanks and bomb damaged buildings. As a seasoned soldier he was in the thick of it leading his section in the attacks, his memories of the action crystal clear.
Finally he was sent home to recuperate, too exhausted to fight any more, arriving back in England less than two months after he had deployed. Although his D-Day experience was with the Lincolnshire Regiment, Cyril was a Kingo at heart and he wore his King’s cap badge with Pride for the rest of his life.
In later years he returned to the Normandy region several times with fellow D-Day Veterans. In 2017 surviving Veterans were awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government. Cyril received his at Bootle Town Hall, with his family and fellow Kings present.
Cyril passed away in October 2018 aged 101. Kings Regiment Standard Bearers paraded at his funeral.
There will be a ceremony at St John’s Memorial gardens at 11am on 6 June to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day Landings. The same evening, there will be a ‘turning of the leaves’ ceremony at the Anglican Cathedral at 5pm.
Find out more about the long and fascinating history of the King’s Regiment in the City Soldiers gallery.
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